Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Back to School, Part 2: Intro to Proofs

When I got to this class (a few minutes early), the professor was already talking. I hesitated, suddenly unsure whether I might be walking into the end of the previous class, and he said, "Sit down, sit down! I just can't help talking when I'm in here."

Dr. Johnson is in his 60s and really reminds me of my grandfather (my father's father). Of everyone who reads this blog, only my mom[m] has ever met this grandfather, so I guess all I can say is that my professor is also somewhat like Tom Bosley. He's very friendly and funny.

He handed out a syllabus - his own syllabus - and then proceeded to go over it, admitting in the process that three separate things on the syllabus are not true. It is not true that we can't miss more than three classes without penalty ("the only penalty is from you...you're adults, I'm an adult, I'm not going to penalize you for not coming to class"), it is not true that homework can be collected any time ("no, I'll only collect homework if I tell you ahead of time that I'm collecting it"), and it is not true that one of several specific models of graphing calculators is required for the course.

He also gave us the deparmental syllabus for the class. He thinks all professors should do this so you can see if you're getting what you're supposed to be getting. That was interesting.

We briefly talked about some famous mathematicians, then started talking about logic.

The first time I was introduced to formal logic, as far as I can recall, was in a summer enrichment class at Rice when I was in middle school. It was pretty easy for me then. Since that time, the subject has been covered thoroughly for me in at least my high school geometry class and the logic class I took at Rice (in college). So this material - discussing AND and OR, constructing truth tables - was pretty dang boring. It's not difficult enough that you forget it over the years and are refreshed to re-learn it or anything. But it's being presented pretty quickly (probably slightly too quickly if you're not already familiar with it), so hopefully we will move on to something more interesting soon.

We have homework, but he didn't indicate that he'll be collecting it. So given that I don't have the book yet, and assuming the homework is more of this truth table stuff, I don't intend to bother with it.


Tam said...

Oh, we also got three extra credit assignments for Proofs, which is kind of funny. Two are 1-2 page papers ("don't write more than 2 pages!") on the topics of "Archmedes did more for war than he did for peace" and "Descartes was a better military man than he was a mathematician." These are each worth 10 points (out of 700 for the course). We can also get 5 points for identifying the recently-solved $1M proof (it's the Poincare one, I already know) and giving some additional information about it.

Mosch said...

additional information: the guy is a Russian recluse

rvman said...

...who refused the prize